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Penn transgender swimmer Lia Thomas, who had been crushing her competition since joining the women’s swim team after three years swimming as a biological male, met her match Saturday in the 100-meter freestyle during a tri-meet with Yale and Dartmouth.
Thomas won the 200-meter and 500-meter races at Penn’s final home meet of the season, but she finished sixth in the 100-meter where Yale’s Iszac Henig, a transgender swimmer who is in the process of transitioning from female to male, crushed Thomas. Henig finished the 100 in 49.57 while Thomas touched the wall in 52.84.
“I wasn’t prepared for that. Everything is messed up. I can’t wrap my head around this. The NCAA needs to do something about this. They need to put science into the decision and discussion,” a Penn swim parent told The Daily Mail.
In the 400-freestyle relay, Thomas was beaten yet again by Henig, who swam his leg in 50.45 to Thomas’ 51.94.
Spectators in attendance told the Daily Mail that Henig, who had his breasts removed, won the 50-yard freestyle and proceeded to pull down the top of his swimsuit.
In June, Henig wrote in a New York Times column that he wasn’t taking hormones and would remain on the women’s team.
“As a student-athlete, coming out as a trans guy put me in a weird position. I could start hormones to align more with myself, or wait, transition socially and keep competing on a women’s swim team. I decided on the latter,” Henig wrote.
“I value my contributions to the team and recognize that my boyhood doesn’t hinge on whether there’s more or less testosterone running through my veins. At least, that’s what I’ll try to remember when I put on the women’s swimsuit for the competition and am reminded of a self I no longer feel attached to.”
As for Thomas who has already qualified for two events at the NCAA Championships, spectators at Saturday’s tri-meet described the odds-on-favorite to win national championships for Penn as “coasting” and “barely trying” during the 500-freestyle, which was won by a one-second margin.
Penn returns to the pool January 22 for a meet against Harvard.